Panera Bread Now Lets Customers Personalize Their Mac & Cheese

With topping customization to turn your mac into an 'experience.'

You can’t say Panera Bread is afraid to shake things up a little bit. (To those who would disagree I say only double-bread bowl.)

The bakery-café chain’s latest creative menu move? It’s actually a move that lets its customers express their own culinary creativity — what Panera is calling its “new ‘Build Your Own Mac’ experience.”

Panera is taking its perennially popular Mac & Cheese (it sells at least three million servings of it each moth) and turning it into an “experience” by letting diners who place orders either online or via the chain’s app customize their dish with up to five toppings including bacon, avocado, smoked pulled chicken, pico de gallo, BBQ sauce, onions, and fresh cilantro.

Customized Mac & Cheese orders placed online or via the app can be delivered or eaten in a Panera location. And for those not into experimenting too much on their own, Panera is also offering three new “curated Mac & Cheese offerings” — Baja, BBQ Chicken and Bacon — to menus nationwide.

“Our Mac & Cheese is so well loved, the idea of messing with a great thing was something we did not take lightly,” Tom Sadler, Panera’s vice president of food and beverage product development, said in a statement. “But we also think food should be fun -- so we got into the kitchen and carefully selected toppings that we knew would complement our Mac & Cheese and offer fresh, exciting flavors. The new ‘Build Your Own Mac’ option gives guests one more layer of personalization to craft the flavor that’s perfect for them.”

And if you’re up for expressing yourself via Mac & Cheese in a group, Panera is also offering a “Build Your Own Mac Bar” as a catering option that is, it says, “perfect for an office celebration or gathering with friends and family.”

The family that customizes its own Mac & Cheese together …

Related Links:

Keep Reading

Next Up

Order This, Not That: Panera Bread

Panera Bread serves so many soup, salad and sandwich options that finding a healthy menu item can get confusing. Let us help you figure out what to order and what to avoid.

Get Custom Cheese Slices

Hot Tips for cooking with cheese from Food Network Kitchens' Katherine Alford: Instead of buying presliced cheese in packages, hit the deli counter to find more interesting cheeses.

Panera Is Testing a Double Bread Bowl

For those who don’t consider the single Bread Bowl decadent enough.

Lobster Is Coming to Panera Bread This Summer

The fast-casual bakery-cafe chain is saving you the summer trip to Maine.

Macaroni & Cheese, Lightened Up

I don’t know many people that would turn down mac and cheese. But is there a way to devour it without worry? Learn how to make the cheesy goodness with less calories and more flavor.

Favorite Macaroni and Cheese Recipes

Satisfy your cravings for this all-American favorite.

Make Irish Macaroni and Cheese

Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, whip up this easy Irish Macaroni and Cheese from Food Network Magazine.

Roasted Jalapeno Macaroni and Cheese

Roasted jalapenos and a modest amount of strongly flavored cheese go a long way in flavoring this lightened-up macaroni and cheese.